Naoto Ohshima

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Naoto Ōshima
Place of birth: Osaka, Japan
Date of birth: 1964-02-26[1] (age 60)
Employment history:
Sega Enterprises (1987-09[1] – )
Arzest (2010 – )
Role(s): Artist, Character Designer, Director
Education: Kyoto Seika University (1986)

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Naoto Ōshima (大島 直人) is a Japanese artist and former Sega of Japan and Sonic Team developer, artist, and director, most known as the original designer of the characters Sonic the Hedgehog and Dr. Eggman. Ohshima gained notoriety at Sega for creating characters and playing integral roles in the development of games like Phantasy Star, NiGHTS into Dreams, and Sonic Adventure.

After leaving Sonic Team, he co-founded (and later became president of) an independent game company called Artoon. There he went on to work on such games as Pinobee and Blinx the Time Sweeper. In 2010, Ohshima and other key Artoon members left the company to form Arzest, another video game development company. Ohshima currently holds the title of Executive Vice President.


Naoto Ohshima initially worked at a design company, hoping to gain experience needed to start a career as a manga artist. Dissatisfied there, he changed jobs to work for a video game developer where his work could make children happy in the same way Santa Claus gives children joy, so he started working at Sega Enterprises in September of 1987[5]. As a graphic designer there, his first project was Phantasy Star[5], where he designed the character Odin, monsters like the Werebat and Vampire and some visual effects[6]. He worked on a couple other Master System games the following year. After witnessing programmer Yuji Naka struggling during development of Phantasy Star II, Ohshima asked if he could help out, and was given heaps of work to do on his Mega Drive debut[5]. He generally disliked not having something to do, so was involved with many games, including the Master System versions of games Rambo III and Altered Beast (neither of which were released in Japan) and Hokuto no Ken: Shin Seikimatsu Kyuuseishu Densetsu[5] (released as Last Battle outside of Japan]). In the case of Hokuto no Ken, he received great praise from users for his artwork[7].

After a cancelled project named Twinkle Star[5], Naoto Ohshima then became the character of Sega's new mascot Sonic the Hedgehog, for the titular Sonic the Hedgehog, reuniting with Phantasy Star programmer Yuji Naka and Fatal Labyrinth game designer Hirokazu Yasuhara. Ohshima was also responsible for the concept art of all the in-game zones[2], which would then be adapted by Jina Ishiwatari and Rieko Kodama. Naoto Ohshima has also been cited as the director of Sonic the Hedgehog for the Mega Drive[8], a role he would reprise with Sonic the Hedgehog CD, basing it around a concept he had earlier in the development of the original Sonic: time travel[5].

Like Twinkle Star, Ohshima's next project would end up being cancelled: Fighting Circus. Following its cancellation in late 1994, he would once again team up with Yuji Naka and reestablish Sonic Team, to direct NiGHTS Into Dreams, as well as design the character of NiGHTS.

Production history




Magazine articles

Main article: Naoto Ohshima/Magazine articles.


Some or all of the following content should be mirrored on Sega Retro (or Retro CDN).


Main article: Photos of Naoto Ohshima

External links